A robust society always has a thriving theatre. Its character, figures, and events find an inevitable place in enactment. In Goa, this theatre, especially in rural places, is a fine mix of song, dance and dialogue.

The use of masks is a notable feature of the ‘Kaalo’. However not all the characters use them. It begins with the people who all come together and pray. A lamp is lit. The elders lead the people in making an offering to the deity. Two men holding lit torches stand alongside the group followed by the ‘dhumali’.

 ‘Dhumali’ is a musical piece, which is becoming extinct in Goa today. Very rarely you will be able to see it and few people know about it.

Some of these folk performances are ritualistic in nature, either to appease the deity or as fulfillment to a vow and as such, many of these are performed in the temple complex itself. The Kaalo is one of them. Kaalo is a theatre form based on the ten incarnations of lord Vishnu and one of its characters is lord Ganesh.

The scenes are based on the routine lives of individuals.

The Kaalo has an interactive aspect to it. Characters intermingle and converse with the audience.

Many characters and themes are mixed in this play. This mixture (‘kalayta’) came to be known as kaalo. It could also be that since this theatre tells the stories of yesteryears (‘kaal’) it came to be known as ‘kaalo’.

One of the characters which is seen in the dance is Sankaasur, the demon, who wears black. Vishnu warns the demon through gestures. This theatre folk art bears striking resemblance with that in neighboring state of Karnataka. 

Outside Goa this theatre is performed in Karnataka and it is also called ‘khell’. Their ‘yakshagandha’ is famous and is similar to ‘kaalo’.

 No one might know for how long the Kaalo has been performed but the zeal to continue it is still there. After all it embodies the people’s past and present. Theatre is like a prism through which we can view various aspects of society, which combines routine activities with religious beliefs and the Kaalo is no exception to that.

Go back to Traditional Dances of Goa

Follow Us on